Wilson, Live at the Roxy Theatre (Brimel Records 2000) - During
the past couple of years, Brian Wilson (of Beach Boys
fame) has resumed touring
on a regular basis. Live at the Roxy Theatre is a double-disk collection recorded live on the
Sunset Strip on April 7-8, 2000. I was at the first show, and offer the following observations.
start, the audience was almost reverential. We all knew of Brian's difficulties, and were there to pay him respect
(and to enjoy the music).
I didn't see the celebrities reported to be in attendance (such as Don
Was, Bette Midler, Dave Alvin, Lindsey Buckingham, or Jon Bon Jovi),
although I did see veteran porn star Ron "The Hedgehog"
Jeremy when we were exiting.
the band was air-tight and studio perfect. Standouts among the dozen musicians on stage were Paul Mertens
(from Chicago's Poi Dog Pondering) on saxophone and flute,
and LA's own, the Wondermints.
Brian played all of the old
favorites, such as "California Girls," "I Get Around," and "Good Vibrations,"
some more recent material ("This Isn't Love"), and a pair of instrumentals from the landmark Pet
how do I rate Live at the Roxy Theatre? It's not the same, in that the album doesn't capture the
lush sound at the Roxy (the P.A. system at the club was the best that money can buy), and Brian's
vocals have been pushed up on the CD.
Yet there are some delicious moments. Give a listen to Brian's read on "Brian
Wilson" (by the Barenaked Ladies), which segues into the introspective,
"'Til I Die." Another charmer is the thoughtful "Lay Down Burden," with a studio feel. And
a staple of Brian's live shows is the concluding, "Love
best tracks on Live at the Roxy Theatre aren't the songs that I remember as being the best in
concert. What I remember about the concert was the sense that here was the master, performing his own songs, with
a crack band. The CD highlights Brian's vocals, while the concert
highlighted his amazing band.
Better than most bootlegs, Live at the Roxy Theatre shows Brian
Wilson in fine form. The album costs $22.00, and is only available at www.brianwilson.com.
Bad Vibes Update - It is now reported that Live At The Roxy will be sold in stores beginning
June 19, 2001, with two bonus tracks ["Sloop John B" and "Barbara Ann"] and a new interview.
That's inexcusable. Only true fans bought the album from the website. Now we have to purchase another copy to get
the complete package?!
Soundtrack to Steal this Movie (Artemis
Records 2000) - "Steal This Movie" is the recent film biography of the late counter-culture hero,
Abbie Hoffman. The film starred Janeane
Garafolo and Vincent D'Onofrio in the story of the civil rights activist
who helped found the Yippie party, led protests at the 1968 Democratic National Convention, and who later was an
environmental activist under the name "Barry
didn't see the
movie, but respect the memory of a man who campaigned a pig for president and led thousands to march on the
Pentagon. The soundtrack features a dozen songs from
the era, some originals, some likeable remakes.
The originals include "War" by Edwin
Starr, "I Ain't Marchin' Any More" by folkie Phil Ochs, and "Super Bird" by Country Joe and
the Fish (which stands as a disappointing Country Joe choice).
remakes are an interesting lot, including a surprising turn on "Mellow Yellow" (the old Donovan song)
by Mary Chapin Carpenter, a smooth sliding cover of "It's
All Over Now, Baby Blue" by Bonnie Raitt, and a countrified version
of the Chambers Brothers' "Time
Has Come Today" by Steve Earle & Sheryl Crow.
The biggest treats are "My Back Pages" by Joan
Osborne & Jackson Browne, whose voices meld effortlessly, and a stunning solo cover of "This Land
is Your land" by Ani DiFranco. DiFranco nails the old
Woody Guthrie song - perhaps because she truly shares the spirit of
Guthrie - in an emotion-drenched cover that puts to shame every sappy version of the song. (The recording also
includes all of the socialist-leaning lyrics, not just the feel-good lyrics that have been vetted by schoolhouse
"This Land is Your Land" grabbed me and won't
let go. Enjoy this treat on Steal This Movie.
of Abba (MCA 2000) - Never out of the public eye, Abba has enjoyed
continued success since the band disbanded in 1982, most recently from such sound-alike groups as A*Teens
and Bjorn Again.
Best of Abba features 11 hit tracks from these Swedish hitmakers
(precedessors to Ace of Base), all on a mid-level
priced CD. Remastered for this release, you can't go wrong with Best of Abba.
Abba came together
in 1973, and included Agnetha Faltskog, Bennie Andersson, Bjorn
Ulvaeus and Anni-Frid (Frida) Lyngstad. All had enjoyed previous (if limited) pop success in their home country.
The name Abba was taken from the first initial of each of their first names.
The band began scoring
hits with "Waterloo" (1973) and "S.O.S." (1975). After conquering Europe, Abba arrived in America
with 1976's Arrival, which featured the disco-era anthem, "Dancing Queen" (the group's
only number one U.S. single), as well as the top 20 hit, "Knowing Me, Knowing You."
Arrival was Abba's first of four consecutive gold or platinum albums, followed by the number three
single, "Take a Change on Me" (1977), "Chiquitita"
(1979), and their final top ten single, "The Winner Takes it All" (1980).
The band began
to drift apart when the marriages of Agnetha & Bjorn and Bennie & Anni-Frid unraveled. Abba made its final
live performance at a concert in Stockholm in 1982, and disbanded thereafter.
Bennie and Bjorn (the writers of all of the band's chirpy,
upbeat songs) have remained productive in the following years. They have a new musical play, Mamma
Mia, now opening in San Francisco after a run in London, and penned the sadly-neglected 80's stage show, Chess.
While fans remain
hopeful of a reunion, the band has so far resisted (despite offers that have included staggering financial sums).
The members of Abba don't need the money - in 1982, they were Sweden's single largest earner of foreign currency.
If you want a slice of the real thing, look for Best of Abba.
- Randy Krbechek © 2000
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